Sunday, May 15, 2005

Toronto Karaoke Review: Milwaukee's w/ Jason Rolland

The sign on the front caught my attention even before I saw the schedule from my other karaoke sources: "The only Karaoke that doesn't Suck". Well, with a statement like that I HAD to review this place. So, on to see whether this place & MC does or does not suck.

I arrived early because the MC's web site indicated that the start time was from 9 PM to 1 AM, but his venue is from 10 PM to 2 AM. The food services were a pleasure. I must say the food quality was exceptionally good. I'd go there again just for the food. Service, very attentive. Now, on to the karaoke itself.

The Good: The food at Milwaukee's was excellent. I'm giving the highest food score I've ever given a karaoke bar/restaurant to date. The equipment was in excellent shape, excellent sound and wireless mics are a great touch. If you want temporary fame, you may get your picture on Jason's website. If a song like "American Pie" is too long, he'll fade it out, which is appreciated. While I love the song, it runs too long when you have other waiting in line.

The Mixed: The facilities are a bit awkward because the restaurant configuration makes it difficult to reach the karaoke stage on a crowded day unlike Hollywood on the Queensways which has the best karaoke configuration I've ever seen. The selection is mixed as well, not because of the selection itself, which is exceptional in content and variety, but because parts of it are either labeled "banned" or Jason will decide he can't let you sing a song you select for various reasons.

The website is all flash/javascript and although it WILL run on other browsers the web site tells you it won't work on anything but MS Internet Explorer which reflects poorly on the web developer who did this site. Firefox has gained popularity because it doesn't have a web security vulnerability known as ActiveX/VBScript. It will work if you go to on FireFox and Safari. As an IT professional whose done web development I'll just say for the record that there is no good reason for a site not to work on both of these browsers. Flash and Javascript work on all major browsers. Incidentally Jason, IE is only number one because MS stuffs it down their OS, but Firefox, Mozilla, Safari and Opera browsers are more secure (and becoming more popular) because most spyware out there takes advantage of ActiveX/VBScript vulnerabilities.

The Bad: (Note this venue is closed and the MC has reduced his restrictions in other venues where he performs, will verify in coming reviews) The only part of this karaoke venue that "sucked" was the Host himself. When Jason started things up, he began be indicating that the first song had to be a FAST selection. From there on the restrictions kept on coming. Never had I seen an MC who censored his own selections either on his books or verbally to his patrons. You feel like he's saying "Its my karaoke and you'll sing if I want you to". This is in violation of BASIC karaoke rules established in Japan, the motherland of karaoke: Participation is paramount to all else. Anything that interferes with people's willingness to participate is in violation of the spirit of karaoke.

This is exactly what Jason does with harsh negative comments if you don't follow his clapping rules and disallowing songs from his play list at his discretion even if it isn't "banned" in his books. (in my case I was told singing Barry Manilow may cause problems for a bunch of 19-20 year olds from Rochester, NY) You see a great selection with some song you really want to try, only to be told "not allowed" Would you feel comfortable submitting a song only to have it rejected by the Rolland censorship committee? (If I wanted that I'd sing in Russia or China)

In public karaoke, host conduct counts for a lot. I felt I'd sooner come for the food than for the MC. Telling people that some songs may cause riots also doesn't speak well for the safety or security at Milwaukee's. If Milwaukee's wants to make it patrons feel safe, I suggest they don't have riot warnings given by their karaoke hosts for song selections.

This is difficult for me because there are some very good things going for Milwakee's with Jason Rolland: The Food is excellent at reasonable prices, the equipment is first rate and the pictures on the web site are a nice touch. The site itself (which is NOT part of scoring), is as restricted as Jason's karaoke rules themselves which I'm sad to say doesn't surprise me: Your selections may be pulled if Jason decides it doesn't suit his taste or taste of the other patrons which left a VERY bad impression as does repeated negative reinforcements of rules. Implying a song selection may compromise safety and security in the restaurant doesn't help either.

At first glance, you like what you see, but you can't feel comfortable unless you are there primarily there to drink and/or only want to sing fast songs done in the 90's or later exclusively. To me, this kind of restriction DOES suck. If you want a place where you can feel free to sing your heart out and feel good doing it, I suggest you go elsewhere. I'll be checking a few of his other venues to confirm whether these song restrictions are because of the MC or the restaurant owners.

Summary scores:
Facilities: 8 (Adjusted after viewing feedback and reflecting on other places)
Equipment: 9.5 (displace by Peter Rock Radio...see review)
Location 8 (St Andrew Subway, walk a bit Northeast)
Song Selection: 6 (Had to adjust for censored and potentially censored songs)
Wait Time: 7 (scaled for public venues)
Host: 6 (control freak, makes you feel like you are on the Chinese Internet)
Food Prices: 7.5 (won't break the bank)
Food Selection: 7 (covers the basics)
Food Quality: 8 (really good food for a karaoke restaurant)

Final Grade: C
Nice place, great equipment but Host puts a wet blanket on your song selection at times, have to worry about pleasing the crowd.

Venue Information:
Tuesdays: 10 PM to 2 AM
220 Adelaide West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 1W7
(416) 368-1017

Additional note: 2005-08-03. The MC took offense to this review and started flaming at a site I help organize. (I had no idea my reviews had such an effect) Any objective comments or disagreements are welcome, but flaming or blatent (and especially condecending) advertising attempts are not. If one feels a comment may be unjustified they may ask for clarification. One person even convinced me that the stage was better than average so I increased the score on facilities from a 7 to an 8 upon further reflection. The MC score stands. The flaming remarks I got plus attacks on our member's musical tastes removed any doubts I had about who was doing the censoring there. The MC took full responsibility for that.

Toronto Karaoke Review: Saxony Resturant

The Saxony is a small sized bar/resturant on the the corner of Sherborne and Bloor. With the sign advertising 42,000 songs, I just had to stop in and take a look on Friday. After all, with 42000 songs, sounded like it could have a lot to offer.

The Good: The only good things were the excellent quality mikes and speakers. The food prices are very low, but the food you get is even lower.

The Mixed: Nothing was mixed here. It was pretty much all bad except for the equipment.

The Bad: Never had I had so many categories to put in this section of a review: The selection is the lowest I'd ever seen, the food was very poor, and the facilities were crowded and make you feel like you are in run down "hole in the wall". When the Fish & Chips arrived I was also surprised but in a negative way: The tarter sauce looked and tasted like it was just mayonase and pickles mixed, and the fish was like a bad TV dinner. In this case, I felt I get like I got less than what I paid for. Looking at the karaoke books itself I was equally disappointed: The selection didn't have enough English songs to come NEAR 42000. more like under 1000. I suspect they have a LOT more Chiense and Korean songs as there were a few people who sang a number of them. The restaurant wasn't really large enough to fold more than 50 people without being crowded, but there weren't many people there (maybe 20), I suspect this won't be a problem if you go. A better selection, or at least more up to date songs would be nice as the limited English songs available were all quite old. For me isn't so bad, but if you want more recent songs, you won't find them here. You'd think given the attendance I could give full marks on the wait time, but they ere also fairly bad: Several old customers were hogging the mike the MC did nothing to balance things out. Frankly, this barely qualifies as a karaoke restaurant/bar. More bar than restaurant or karaoke.

Grade: D

Summary Scores:
Facilities: 6 (They were clean although they give the feel of a cheap American bar)
Equipment: 9 (can't really fault it: It all works great, you won't sound bad here)
Location: 8 (Easy to get to, Sherbourne Subway, one block south)
Song Selection 4 (1000 English songs, please...)
Wait times: 4 (Scaled for Public Venue)
Host: 6 (She got all the selections right so I'm giving this as a gift)
Food Prices: 9 (Careful, something too good to be true...)
Food Quality 3 (Had better Microwave dinners)
Food Selection: 7 (They covered the basics)

Summary: Overall if you want a beer and incidental karaoke, well, go for it. Otherwise I'd pass for places that take their food and karaoke more seriously.

Venue Information:
Fridays and Saturdays, 8 PM to 2 AM
Saxony Resturant
599 Sherbourne Street
Toronto, Ontario M4X 1K7

Monday, May 09, 2005

Karaoke Events & Updates

Fellow Karaoke Lovers:
I'm compiling a list of current places for Karaoke Bars and Boxes as well as reviews so we can know where to go for either a private or public session any day of the week. (Yes it IS possible). Also to let people which places have sadly passed on. Without further ado, here is the list of venue places, events and (sob) closings.

Regular Resturant & Bar Events (Confirmed):

The Groundhog Pub (See Review)
401 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON
Phone: (416) 975-1867
Fax : (416) 975 - 9252
Fridays & Saturdays 10 PM - 2 AM

Fox & Fiddle (See Review)
280 Bloor Street West (Bloor St. West @ St. George)
Toronto, ON
(416) 966-4fox (369)
Tuesday & Saturdays 10 PM (11 PM Saturdays) - 2 AM

The Unicorn
(416) 482-0115
175 Eglington East
Toronto, ON
M4P 1J4
Monday Evenings, 10 PM - 2 AM

Saxony Resturant (See Review)
(416) 929-2300
599 Sherbourne Street
8 PM - 2 AM
Friday, Saturday Evenings

Zippers Bar
72 Carlton Street
(Phone Number being confirmed)
8 PM - 12 AM
Thursday Evenings

Mr. GreenJeans
The Eaton (Sears) Centre (Dundas & Yonge), 3rd floor
(416) 979- 1212
10 PM - 2 AM (Host: Jason Rolland,
Wednessday, Thursday Evenings (Saturdays? possible type/bug on site)

The Gladstone Hotel (see review)
1214 Queen Street West
(416) 531- 4635
8 PM to 1 AM (Host:Peter Styles,
Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Fiddler's Green Pub (See Review)
27 Wellsley Avenue
(Phone number pending)
(7-9? confirmation of start time pending) - closing time
Friday Evenings (Prizes indicated)

The Fox and Fiddle (see review)
535 Danforth Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4K 1P7
Phone: 416-462-9830
Fax: 416-461-3132

Hoops Sports Bar (see review)
458 Yonge Street
(416) 929-3324
9 PM - closing time
Wednesday, Thursday Evenings

Hollywood On the Queensday(See Review)
1184 The Queensway
(416) 251-0288
8 PM - Midnight (Hosted by Karaoke Nights)
Wednesday Evenings

Shoeless Joe's Bar (see review)
401 King Street West
(Phone Number pending)
10 PM - 2 AM (Host name pending)
Friday Evenings

Joe Mercury's Big City Sports Bar & Grill
2345 B Dundas St. West
(416) 535-1324
9:30 PM - Closing
Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Peel Pub
276 King St. W. (& Duncan)
(416) 977-0003
Tuesday 10:00pm

On the Rocks Restaurant
169 Front St. E (& Sherbourne)
(416) 862-2901
Thursday, Friday, Saturday
"Marginal selection of out of date songs, but good atmosphere"

Unconfirmed Karaoke Resturants & Bars
(Note because these are as yet unconfirmed, I cannot be certain that
all these venues are still in operation. I will be confirming them in the coming weeks)

Billy Bob's
2448 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
10 PM - Closing

Blue Lagoon
3180 Lake Shore Boulevard West
Toronto ON
(416) 259-4700
9:30 PM - Closing

Chateau Bar & Grill
1157 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto ON
(416) 654-3784
9:30 PM - Closing

2364 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON
(905) 855-7584
9 PM - Closing

Chick 'N Deli
744 Mount Pleasant Road
Toronto ON
9 PM - Closing

Crews Toronto
508 Church Street
Toronto, ON
Tuesdays & Thursdays
11 PM - Closing

Fiddler's Dell Bar
781 Annette Street
10 PM - Closing

Canton Karaoke Lounge
4810 Sheppard Av East
(416) 332-0801

Club Epiphany Restaurant & Lounge
11 Arrow Rd
(416) 740-9329

Future Karaoke Restaurant
58 Redlea
(416) 321-5618

Huong Bar & Karaoke
1680 St Clair Avenue West
(416) 654-8889

Manila By Night Karaoke Bar & Restaurant
4949 Bathurst Street
(416) 225-1078

May Karaoke
876 Dundas West
(416) 361-9377

JR's Bar & Grill
3653 Lakeshore Blvd. West
(416) 521-6302

The Fox & Fiddle
4946 Dundas Street West.
(416) 207-9990

Crossroads House
1544 Danforth Ave. (& Coxwell Ave.)
(416) 406-4017

Cubao Bar & Grill
298 College St. (& Spadina Ave.)
(416) 966-9024
a song or two during the band's break

Duke Of York
1225 Queen St. E. (@ Leslie)
(416) 463-5302
Saturday 4:30 to 7:30 P.M. with SD SIKI

Hollingers Restaurant & Tavern
1026 Coxwell Ave (& Danforth)
(416) 425-9877
Fri & Sun

Jekyl & Hyde
2340 Dundas Street West.
(416) 535-0547
10 PM - Closing
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays

Joe Badali's Restaurant (Elbow Room)
156 Front St. (& Simco)
(416) 977-3064
Wednesday 6:30pm to 10:30pm with Walter & Chris Henkel

Mr. Slate Sports Bar & Top Brass Lounge
952 Kingston Rd.
M4E 1S7
(416) 694-9495 Thursdays Fri 10 P.M.

New Karaoke Restaurant
793 Gerrard E
(416) 463-9902

Play It Again Sports Bar
1002 St. Clair Ave. W. (& Oakwood Ave.)
Toronto M6E 1A2
(416) 656-8434
Friday 11:00am- 2:00am

Purple Pig
1 Richmond St. W.
(416) 366-6465

Rio Restaurant
129 Danforth Ave
Toronto, On
(416) 461-2208

Spice Isle Granadian Sports Bar (formerly 'Caffe Del Corso')
1928 Eglinton Ave. W., York
(416) 782-4044
Fridays 9:30pm - 2:00am with Martin Dalcourt & Merike Purje.

Spirits Bar & Grill
642 Church St.
Toronto, ON
M4Y 2G3
(416) 967-0001
Saturday & Sunday

Star City Karaoke
393 Dundas West
(416) 593-9996

Tropical Nights
1311 Danforth Ave
Toronto, On
(416) 693-9000
Mon 10:00 P.M

Winchester Tavern
537 Parliament St. (& Winchester St.)
(416) 929-1875 Wed and Sun

Wise Guys
2301 Danforth Ave.
Toronto, On
karaoke with Dr. Spin

JR's Bar & Grill
3653 Lakeshore Blvd. West
(416) 521-6302
Karaoke Saturday Nights Began Nov. 2, 2002, On-going


The following Venues have closed their doors. We'll miss them:

43 Elm Street
7:30 PM - 11:30 PM (Starting after the first week September)
Phone: (416) 971-6264
Toronto, ON

Tequila Sunrise
212 Adelaide Street West
(416) 593-6164
10 PM - 2 AM (Host: Jason Rolland,
Monday Evenings

Milwaukee's Good Bites
220 Adelaide Street West
(416) 368-1017
10 PM - 2 AM (Host: Jason Rolland,
Tuesday Evenings

Fuel Station
335 Jarvis St. (& Carlton St.)
(416) 921-1361
Mondays, Pool Tables

The Red Spot
459 Church St
(416) 967-7768
Mondays with Foofer

Lee Garden
1255 Bay St. (& Bloor)
(416) 968-3689
All English Daily 9:30pm Chinese Food Restaurant

Sushi Bistro
204 Queen St. W.
Toronto, On
(416) 971-5315

Cafe Lang Van II Karaoke
70 Ossington
Toronto, On

Charitiy's Karaoke Cause Bar
240 Sherbourne
Toronto, On
(416) 922-4885

Ah So Gardens Japanese Restaurant
614 Jarvis St. (& Bloor)
(416) 920-4333
Featuring songs in English, Chinese, Japanese & Korean.

Fox & Firkin (Open but stopped Karaoke 3 years ago)
51 Eglinton Ave. E. (& Yonge St.)
Phone: (416) 480-0200
Sundays British Pub. Imported beers on tap

Stanley's Entertainment Lounge
129 Danforth Avenue
(416) 462-3373
9:30PM - Close (Host name pending)
Wednesday Evenings

T.J.'s Tap & Grill
2112 Danforth Ave. (E of Woodbine)
(416) 424-4612
Saturday with Mary

Karaoke Box Venues:
This sections I need time to get full details.
See reviews for XO karaoke box for details. More to follow

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Toronto Karaoke Review: XO Karaoke Box


For those of you who may not know, many karaoke people who are either shy or want more singing time opt for the karaoke BOX rather than the karaoke bar. There are many advantages if you want to be with people you know or want to practice before standing up before a possible vocal agent. I've been frequenting XO for quite sometime and currently the Toronto Karaoke Group hosts its meetings there. Does that mean it gets top marks? Lets find out...

The good: XO's greatest strength is its song selection. I haven't counted but its quite huge. And that's just the English. Their Chinese collection isn't too bad although I'm told by my Chinese friends that its selections are a bit old. Of course it has LOTS of Korean, being a Korean owned establishment and a modest selection of Japanese. You do the math. Wait times for singing are first rate because they changed their systems a LOT: All their old laser disks have been converted to MPEG movies and stored on a Server (inexpensive I grant you) and uploaded to client computers in all the rooms, so when you punch in the selection into the computers, it comes up within 10-15 seconds. Food is available from the bar downstairs and the prices are very good indeed. Drink prices from the box are a bit on the high side. (This is a recent change) They have a large number of rooms ranging from small to large. (Prices scale according to size) Location is first rate: half a block form Christie Subway with Street parking available without meters.

The Bad: Unfortunately someone at XO got the idea that use of computers means they can cut back in services, basic equipment and courtesy. Starting with the food: Until recently you could simply order food just like in many other karaoke boxes. now, you can't order food until 9 PM. And the drinks are now somewhat pricey. Somebody forgot what the serious karaoke boxes provide but there are other boxes in Toronto who still remember(will be reviewed shortly). When I asked why the change they said "Why bother when we don't make money on it?". The answer to a seasoned karaoke box owner is "To keep the customers happy and stay longer hours". Who wants to stay for a 4 hour session with no food until 9 PM? (May as well eat elsewhere) The furniture is in sorry shape: Broken sofas and chairs that have been there at least 8 years and mics which only work about 60% of the time (I had developed a trick of hold the wires at certain angles to keep the mics working). They now even search your bags going in as well because they worry about you having alcohol, even if you reserve a drinking room. (1st floor only). If you want a drinking room, be prepared to get shifted around if they think they will make more money on a room they already gave you. I wasn't sure if someone reserved our room, but moving a party without warning is just unprofessional.

The mixed: The computer indexing has one serious disadvantage: you have to scroll through song titles. Don't bother searching by song authors unless you know EXACTLY what you want: The song writer lists are incomplete. With Japanese and Chinese songs, there is no proper order at all and with no song books for Chinese (after 1.5 years), you are forced to scroll which means people wanting to sing Chinese songs may have the remote for at LEAST 10-15 minutes. New systems are all very well, but one has to be prepared to full implement them, or you may be worse off. Also, the audio has an undocumented BUG. Some selections you have to press a special button to get the sound enabled or you won't hear the music. After repeated complaints about songs with no audio they explained this to me. Not Good. Not only is the system migration incomplete, but workarounds are not explained to the clients. So if you go to XO, ask about this. They may get around to documenting it if pestered enough.

Summary Scores:
Facilities: 6 (broken furniture in many of the rooms, poor ventlation: Old A/C Units, many barely function)
Equipment: 6 (many mics often not working properly)
Location: 9
Food Prices: 6 (poor drink prices and poor food polices)
Service(Karaoke Box only):4 (poor food policies, 1st floor groups moved without warning)
Wait Times: 10
Room Prices: 7 ($25/hour for small room, $45/Medium, discount available with VIP card)

Final Grade: C
Now magazine may have voted it best Karaoke Box years ago, but its many steps shy if it now. While it has selection, location and wait times in its favor, the decay of facilities, equipment and services are recently leaving a bad taste. If anyone from XO is reading this, I strongly suggest you review the serious karaoke boxes from the motherland of Karaoke, Japan and other karaoke boxes in the northern GTA. A neat computer system (which isn't properly implemented in Chinese & Japanese languages) is no substitute for good old fashioned professionalism. That means broken furniture and equipment is replaced, systems quirks/operation are documented in plain view, and making the customer comfortable in their establishment comes FIRST not second. (or last as in one case I experienced). I have been coming to this place for over 8 years now and its decline deeply saddens me. It used to be first rate establishment worthy of Now magazine's praise. Now, even with its large selection, easy access location and instant song retrieval, it is now only an adequate karaoke box...JUST. I can only recommend XO to people who only care about a large English and Japanese selection at the expense of everything else. I'm currently looking for a new venue for the Toronto Karaoke Group that will allow the maximum number of people to attend.

Update note October 2006. I noticed XO had started replacing SOME of their furniture. so I bumped the grade up a notch. If they can REPLACE their air conditioners I can upgrade it again. I'll speak to the manager on this later.

Venue Information:
693 Bloor Street West, 2nd Floor
Toronto ON
416 535-3734
HanJoon Kwon, Manager

Note (2006-11-02): Some funiture is being replaced so I gave one more point on the Equipment. They are also seeing about getting a central heating/cooling system but its an expensive process. Apparently the owner has opened up a new place 3 weeks ago at Yonge and Gerrard called "Bar + Karaoke Lounge". I visited the place and will be publishing a review on it shortly

Toronto Karaoke Review: Gladstone Hotel w/ Peter Styles


The Gladstone Hotel has a Karaoke Champion in Peter Styles who is probably as much of an enthusiast as I am. Don't get the idea that this automatically makes for a good review. While it may be voted best karaoke place by Now Magazine, well as much as I like Now Magazine, I don't always agree with their reviewers, so I'm writing my own. That said, on to the juicy details.

The Good: The Gladstone Hotel has Peter hosting on Wednesday-Saturday nights so if you want to see a good host more than once a week, I can't think of a place better. Make no mistake, Mr. Styles is as good as rumured: He's EXCELLENT at working the crowd, and being a professional singer himself when he does his vocal intro, people perk their ears. And the energy feels genuine. He's probably the greatest asset of this venue. Song selection is quite decent. With over 5000 English songs its enough to keep you entertained for quite awhile. Indexed both by artist and alphabetically, you'll find what you're looking for. Drink prices are quite reasonable and there is no cover charge. The location is fairly convenient: You can get there by Streetcar quite easily and there is street side parking available.

The Bad: There is no food available at this venue, but you are permitted to bring in food from outside. I'd prefer to be able to order food in the Hotel rather than go 1-3 blocks of my way if I'm hungry which seems likely if you spend 4 hours there. So if you plan on going for the full duration, bring a snack.

The mixed: The facilities are fairly large, but the stage is small. Also, the configuration makes it difficult to balance sound. If you sit in the front, be prepared for LOUD volume. At times it was actually hurting my ears (the volume gets louder the later the evening goes) so I suggest the mid section. At the back its much harder to hear because speakers can't be positioned there. On the plus side, if you tell Peter its too loud he'll take the volume down a notch. Equipment was in spotty condition when I was there: If you stepped the wrong way the CD machine would skip because of the table, and a speaker stopped working in the middle of an evening requiring the sound engineer to patch in a smaller speaker. My guess is the equipment was a bit aged and due for replacement. You may never get a chance to exuast the song list because the wait times to sing are VERY long. Generally an hour or more between songs. In all fairness Peter tries his best to give everyone in a very large crowd a chance, but sometimes a new person coming at the last hour would come in front someone who waited for 1.5 hours.

The verdict: The Gladstone Hotel with Peter Styles is overall a good venue. I don't know if I would necessarily give it "best venue in Toronto" without more research. What is good is VERY good. The worst part of this venue is the fact that there is no food on site, and the wait times can be quite long, but it may vary depending on the crowd. If you prompt Peter it may be reduced if you've been waiting too long. I was surprised at the equipment, but it may have been rectified by now and testing procedures put in place if they haven't replaced their old speaker(s). For people looking for a good time with a great personality, good selection and willing to be entertained by others, The Gladstone is a good place to go.

Final Grade: B
Excellent Host, decent song selection, equipment and sound balance between the front and back could be improved. Some food would be REALLY nice. Wait times are tricky, popularity has its price.

Score Summary:
Facilities: 7.5 (Lots of Space, sound however is unbalanced in different sections)
Equipment: 7.5 (Had to remove points for player that skippped touched, old speakers)
Location: 7.5 (Easy to spot, moderatly easy to get to using the Queen St. Streetcar)
Song Selection: 8.0 (has most of everything, only slightly out of date)
Wait Times: 7 (scaled:public venue,Peter will try to shuffle within reasons if asked)
Host: 9.5 (VERY entertaining, Pays attention to the crowd, you'll love this guy)
Food Prices: 7.5 (This applies to drinks only, because there was no food)
Food Quality: 7 (see update below 2006)
Food Seiection: 7 (sky's the limit, as long as you bring food from outside. Just be nice and order drinks there because the drink are reasonable)
Updated 2006: The now have food at the Gladstone. Appetizers mostly and kitchen closes early but it is there. Will revisit the Gladstone shortly to see if more progress has been made in the food department.

For those who are confused by Grade versus score, Equipment, Selection, wait times and Host count for more than the other categories.

Venue Information:
9PM - 1 AM
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON
Phone: 416 531 4635
Info on the Host:

Toronto Karaoke Review: Hollywood on the Queensway


Hollywood on the Queensways is a bar (apparently it was once operated by two independent owners) with a large amount of room which makes it perfect for MANY occasions. In the case of Wednesdays nights from 8 PM to 12 AM, its hosts Karaoke Nights provided by PH Entertainment Services. If you are a karaoke lover and have Wednesday nights free its a place you can go to sing your heart out. Now, to details.

The Pros: Again, this place has LOTS of space. Equipment is first rate. You have a stage large enough to have singing groups as large as 10 people (if you were so inclined). Music/Voice balance is not a concern even if you have a weak voice: the hostess is very attentive on this point. The food and drink is selection is fairly good making it easy to relax when you need a break from sounding your wind pipes. Wait times between songs is quite short. Between 10-20 minutes making it fairly easy to get a good 4-5 songs in before the evening passes.

The Cons: One of the biggest shortcomings of PH Entertainment Services seems to be the selection. There are barely 1500 songs on the list and most of them are fairly old. Large selection of Elvis, the Beetles, Britney Spears and Madonna, but short on almost everything else. The indexing of song books is poor as well: 25% of the songs are newly added and are in order of CD. (which doesn't help much). The rest are exclusively in order of the artist. (Many people prefer alphabetical lists). Its a shame because the equipment and facilities are so good.

The Mixed: The location is a little inconvenient as well: If you have a car, parking is easy because its in Etobicoke. But if use public transit, its a subway and then two buses, which may discourage some people. If you don't have a car and live downtown I suggest taking your bike on the subway and riding south on Islington. Saves waiting around for 2 buses. Food prices aren't great. Pop and various platters are a touch on the high side in comparison to other places, but it won't break the bank. There is no cover charge, which helps a bit.

The Verdict: Hollywood On The Queensways have a fair amount going for it: Excellent Space, facilities, hostess, and equipment. This counts for a lot. Unfortunately the available song selection is rather poor, which also counts for a lot. If you must have top quality stage and equipment to feel comfortable or like singing in large groups, this place is a must. On the other hand, if selection is important to you, this venue will leave you a little disappointed. With some serious work on song selecton, this would be an EXCELLENT place to "get down".

Summary scores (On a scale of 1 being lowest, 10 being highest):
Facilities: 10
Equipment: 8 (mikes not always well balaned but overall good)
Location: 7
Song selection: 5
Wait Time: (Scaled for Public Venue): 9
Host: (Public Karaoke Ony): 7.5
Food Prices: 7
Food Selection: 8
Food Quality: 7

Final Grade: C+ (Not a waste of time, but not the thrill of your life either, song selection counts for a lot to a karaoke enthusiast)

Venue Information:
Wednesdays, 9 PM - 12 AM
Hollywood on the Queensway
1184 The Queensway
Etobicoke, Ontario M8Z 1R6
(416) 251-0288